Halloween films for children, little or big (Pt.2)

by Lally Pollen


Coraline (2009) PG
Beautifully animated stop motion feature based on the book by Neil Gaiman, about a young girl thrown into an idealized replica of her world, which is more sinister than at first it seems.



Frankenweenie (2012) PG
Animated feature film based on the short by director Tim Burton.  A young boy, victor, conducts experiments to bring his dog back to life. As the monster dog wreaks havoc in the town the boy must convince them of the loyalty and good nature of his best friend.



The Black Cauldron (1985) U certificate
One of Disney’s lesser known animations, Black Cauldron was the first to be released that was not a musical and was with held from video release due to its dark content. Its tells the story of a young boy and his companions who go on a quest to get hold of a powerful object before the evil Horned King gets his mitts on it.




Labyrinth (1986) U certificate + Dark Crystal (1982) PG
Written and directed by Jim Henson, the characters of both these films were based on the designs by Brian Froud. Labyrinth stars David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. Sarah (Connelly) must rescue her baby brother from The goblin kings, by completing his Labyrinth with in 13 hours. Dark Crystal is an animation using puppets. Jen a young orphan raised by peaceful wizards must embark on a quest to find the missing piece of the dark crystal to restore the balance of the universe.



Paranorman (2012) PG
An animated comedy adventure from first time director Chris Butler. Norman has the ability to see and talk to the dead, yet most people do not believe his ability is real. The town of Blithe Hollow (a nod to Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow) is under threat from a curse cast by a witch condemned centuries ago. Norman is the only one who can save them.



Dracula (1931) PG
Although black and white films may not interest some children, Bela Legosi gives one of the most iconic performances of the count in this beautifully creepy version of the classic novel.




Halloween films for children, little or big (Pt.1)

By Lally Pollen

monster-houseMonster House (2006) PG
Animated horror-comedy about three teens exploring the haunted house across the street, only to discover the house itself is a living, breathing monster.


l_121164_4116ace5Corpse Bride (2005) PG
Stop-motion animation from director Tim Burton, featuring voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Gough. A young groom inadvertently marries a dead woman whist practicing his wedding vows.  Despite
the sinister tone of the plot and title, Corpse Bride blends musical numbers, comedy and charm with a gothic aesthetic.


the-nightmare-before-christmas-movie-poster-3607Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) PG
Based on a poem by Tim Burton, this stop-motion musical follows Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween, on his quest to understand the nature of Christmas. Music composed by, and featuring the voice of, Danny Elfman.



addams_family_values_ver1Addams Family (1991)  PG + Addams Family Values (1993) PG
The first directorial feature from Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty, Men in Black), The Addams Family is based on the characters created by Charles Addams and stars Raul Julia and Angelica Huston. Charming gothic family comedies.


600full-the-witches-posterThe Witches (1990) PG
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, The Witches is part adventure, part fantasy horror, about a little boy who after stumbling upon a witch convention and being turned in a mouse, must try to stop their sinister plans. Angelica Huston plays the head witch, who may be a little scary for very young children.


Young-Frankenstein-PosterYoung Frankenstein (1974) PG
A Mel Brooks comedy starring Gene Wilder about the grandson of the famous scientist inheriting the castle and continuing Dr Frankenstein’s experiments, after years of trying to live down the family reputation. A few of the jokes and innuendos may well go over the heads of the very young.


hocus-pocus-movie-poster-1619Hocus Pocus (1993) PG
Goofy and flamboyant Disney comedy celebrating all things Halloween.  This comedy-adventure stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and a very young Thora Birch. Three sister witches are resurrected 300 years after their initial demise in Salem, Massachusetts. It is up to two teenagers, a little girl and an immortal cat to stop them once and for all!




Video City Staff A-Z: D is For… (Pt.1)



D is for Despicable Me (2010)

Despicable Me is a fun-filled family tale by Pixar (Up, Wall-e, Toy Story) about a super-villain, Gru (Steve Carell) who is finding life tough when a new villain comes on the scene! Gru decides to hatch a new plan involving adopting three orphans who he will use to pinch his rivals new gadgets. But then, inevitably, he finds himself becoming attached to his little kids, and wonders whether fatherhood is more his style after all.

This film made me laugh non-stop especially Gru’s army of minions – tiny, goggled yellow marshmallow creatures who are loyal but not too bright. It’s lots of fun for kids of all ages and all the parents that have watched have said it made them laugh too.
Word of advice – make sure you watch the extra features especially the Minions Short Films, lots more laughter guaranteed there!

D is for Death in Gaza (2004):
A heartbreakingly sad watch, particularly if you know the outcome. It certainly puts our somewhat insignificant worries to rest when you see the lives of some of these children.
A good documentary is unbeatable, and this is one you should invest two hours of your life on.

1986-down-by-law-poster1D is for DOWN BY LAW (1986) – dir. Jim Jarmusch


A prison comedy that walks at its own pace,  ‘Down by Law’ which stars Tom waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni is Jim Jarmusch’s break through film.
The plot is relatively simple as films go, but DBL is not so much about what happens to some characters but about who these people are and what is learnt about them through their enforced interaction with each other. The simplicity of the story allows room for the characters’ development and Robby Müller’s beautiful cinematography, which together, create a powerful comic beat-noir atmosphere.
A fairly consistent theme of Down By Law is the dispelling of preconceptions, from the type casting of the three stars to the projection of their characters’ relationships with each other. Before Waits and Lurie starred in this film both were, for American audiences at least, already cult names predominantly in the music world. Their contribution to the film would have initially been a pull for these audiences, but through the film we understand a little more of the people themselves over the stage characters already projected.

6310_2Waits and Lurie’s characters, have a “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us” type situation, partly symbolised by their rhyming names, Jack + Zack. It is the optimistic sincerity of Benigni that allows them to look beyond their initial personality clash.
The collaborative nature of this film heavily contributes to its charm. The soundtrack was provided by both Lurie and Waits, while certain lines and monologues were improvised both accidentally and intentionally by Benigni. The line ‘It is a sad and beautiful world,’ was the happy result of a misunderstanding due to language difficulties (DBL was the Italian actors’ first visit to the USA),  whilst the rabbit monologue was taken straight out of Benigni’s childhood memories of his mother.
down-by-law-1986-02-gIn comparison to Jarmusch’s first two films ‘Permanent Vacation’ and ‘Stranger Than Paradise’, which both carry a more thoroughly ‘Beat’ pace, the almost classic slapstick nature of Down By Law’s comedy makes this film an easy heart warming ride.”I am a good egg…we are a good egg, my friends.”

The New Noir: Cat In Paris

A Cat in Paris (Une Vie De Chat)

Review by Lally Pollen.

Jean-loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s animation, A Cat in Paris, is at once simple, dramatically sensitive and incredibly elegant in style. It’s not without its nods and references, mixing tones of noir classics such as Night of the Hunter and Hunchback of Notre Dame with Pink Panther-like comedy.


Night of the Hunter (1955)

It follows the interweaving stories of two cat burglars – one literal and one metaphorical – a little girl named Zoe, the daughter of a detective and a ‘knuckle’ of gangsters. The story is told with well-balanced levels of humour, realism and dreamlike fluidity, particularly in the more lip-wobbling hallucination sequences.

The imagery of Cat in Paris is reminiscent of an array of artists from Matisse’s The Dance  to Shaun Tan’s cityscapes to Modigliani and his elegant, long-nosed faces. It’s strength is in it’s no frills simplicity but also the delightful soundtrack featuring Billy Holiday and a charm similar to that of Belleville Rendezvous or the Illusionist.
Sly, slick, funny and not without its dark themes, a solid children’s adventure that I think will amuse and engage most ages.